B9 - Ecologically Sustainable Development
The Directorate has responsibility for, among other things, climate change policy, energy policy, energy efficiency programs, environmental sustainability policy, nature conservation policy and the Parks and Conservation Service (PCS). These matters, which all cover ecologically sustainable development, represent core business and are discussed elsewhere. The reporting within this section of the annual report is therefore focused primarily on the Directorate's use of its own resources.
The Directorate took on new responsibilities in 2017-18; this saw a 13% increase in staff and a larger property and fleet portfolio.
The Directorate continued to put in place measures to manage and reduce its environmental impact. The Carbon Neutral Government and Actsmart teams actively encourage energy efficiency including via posters, all staff notifications, team meetings and displays. Staff are advised to power down computers and monitors at the end of the day, while printers and other devices are turned off for weekends and holidays. Personal desk heaters and fans are discouraged. A sustainability officer was put in place during the year to monitor and report on utility and other resource usage, identify energy saving opportunities, and support directorate staff to improve resource efficiency.
Parks and Conservation Service activities minimised energy use while continuing to deliver an appropriate level of maintenance and safety in our parks and reserves. Achieving the energy reduction target without a reduction in this level of service will continue to remain a challenge requiring attention by the Directorate.
For the upcoming year, the Directorate has identified a 4% reduction target in greenhouse gases, including a 5% reduction in emissions from transport fuel. The target is based on energy consumption for the 2017 calendar year and forecast efficiencies, and is subject to seasonal weather variations and climate change.
Opportunities to achieve the target include:
- energy efficiency at PCS depots to reduce energy consumption
- upgrading of HVAC systems
- transport fuel energy efficiency across the Directorate fleet including vehicle management, substitution and reduction in use.
Data in this section for 2017-18 was extracted from the Government's Enterprise Sustainability Platform and is accurate as at 2 August 2018. The majority of paper consumption at Dame Pattie Menzies House is reported by Access Canberra, CMTEDD.
Climate change policy implementation audit
The Directorate contributed $50,000 towards a review of the Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan 2 (AP2) undertaken by the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment. In order to ensure the Government is transparent and accountable in the implementation of Government policy, AP2 included a requirement for an implementation audit every three years by the Commissioner (in 2014, 2017 and 2020). The first audit was completed in 2014 and the second audit completed in 2017, as per the timeframe established in AP2. The Implementation Status Report on ACT Government's Climate Change Policy (the report) was publicly released on 26 October 2017.
The report identified that the ACT has established itself as a national and international leader in climate change policy. It also highlighted the substantial progress in delivering on AP2 actions. However the report was critical of the Government's implementation of its Community Engagement Strategy on Climate Change (Action 5 in AP2), in particular the 'relatively compartmentalised manner' of implementation, and 'absence of an overarching governance structure and adequate resourcing'. The latter refers to the changing priorities and approaches to communication which have been trialled by the Directorate since 2012. The report rated Action 5 as 'of concern'.
More positively, the report found that engagement has been expansive and demonstrated success through the improvement in community attitudes toward taking action on climate change between the 2013 and 2016 community surveys.
The report also identified Action 3 regarding information for tenants on the energy efficiency of their dwellings to be 'of concern'. It identified that the intended action to require landlords to provide information to prospective tenants about the energy efficiency of homes and fixed appliances (page 41) has resulted in a trial of information provision rather than regulation to mandate improved efficiency. The report suggested that rather than implementing Action 3, the Government should introduce appropriate regulation and incentives to landlords so that they provide energy efficient housing stock to tenants.
A Government response to the report was released in February 2018. In response, the Government acknowledged the findings of the audit and supported the continual improvement of policy development and implementation to ensure climate adaptation and mitigation work continues effectively. The ACT Government agreed to all recommendations and noted Recommendation 12 - Identify energy productivity and/or efficiency targets in conjunction with emissions reduction targets at 5 to 10 year intervals out to 2050 to optimise sustainability outcomes. The consideration of energy efficiency targets may be re-assessed in future years should a need arise. Recommendations from the report are being actively considered in the development of the new ACT Climate Change Strategy.
Changes to stationary energy use
Despite a 9% increase in cooling degree days (hotter days, requiring cooling for human comfort) compared with the previous year, office spaces and PCS depots showed reductions in electricity usage due to energy efficiency measures.
There was a 20% reduction in natural gas consumption at the largest office site, Dame Pattie Menzies House, where gas is used for heating. This was partly due to a consolidation of office space in this building, which is shared with CMTEDD, and partly due to a 4% reduction in heating degree days (cooler days requiring heating for human comfort) between 2016-17 and 2017-18. Overall, natural gas consumption for the Directorate decreased by 14%.
The temporary occupancy of Macarthur House for two months in 2017 partly offset the overall reduction in electricity and gas usage for the Directorate .
Changes to water use
Despite a dry summer and autumn water consumption decreased overall by 13%, largely due to water management at some irrigated parkland sites.
The large scale relocation of staff within Dame Pattie Menzies House increased waste to landfill by 34%.
However, the proportion of waste being recycled increased from 71% to 75% in 2017-18, due to a continued commitment to recycling of paper, cardboard and co-mingled materials. It is expected that the introduction of 'Follow Me' printing in mid-2018 will lead to a significant reduction in paper use in the coming year.
The number of vehicles used by the Directorate remained unchanged in the 2017-18 financial year.
The Directorate is continuing to consider vehicle necessity and to lease the most energy efficient, fit-for-purpose vehicles in line with ACT Government policy.
Principle measures to be considered during 2018-19 include:
- reviewing fleet vehicles and identifying vehicles suitable for replacement with electric vehicles or plug in hybrid electric vehicles
- reducing non-essential use of pool vehicles
- contributing to the design of the new government building at Dickson
- introducing energy efficient LED lighting to all ACT Government-owned locations
- actively managing heating and cooling systems utilised at all sites to minimise energy
- communicating energy efficiency programs to new staff and contractors.
Sustainable Development Performance: Current and Previous Financial Year
Indicator as at 30 June (1)
Directorate/ public sector body staff and area
Directorate/public sector body staff
Workplace floor area
Stationary energy usage (3)
Natural gas use
Transport fuel usage
Other vehicles (that are not electric or hybrid)
Total number of vehicles (4)
Total kilometres travelled (5)
Fuel use - Petrol
Fuel use - Diesel
Fuel use - Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG)
Fuel use - Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)
Cubic Metres (cm3)
Resource efficiency and waste
Reams of paper purchased
Recycled content of paper purchased
Waste to landfill
Co-mingled material recycled
Paper & Cardboard recycled (incl. secure paper)
Organic material recycled
Greenhouse gas emissions(6)
Emissions from stationary energy use
Emissions from transport
The 2017-18 EPSDD Annual Report does not include data for the Office of the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment, Suburban Land Agency or City Renewal Authority. For details of these, see Section B9 of the relevant agency's annual report. The 2016-17 EPSDD Annual Report included data for those agencies, so updated figures excluding those have been provided for 2016-17 in the table above.
From 1 July 2017, the Directorate included urban renewal functions including selected urban and infrastructure projects and the Public Housing Renewal Taskforce; land supply and policy functions including affordable housing; and selected support functions for the City Renewal Authority and Suburban Land Agency.
- Petrol and diesel fuel, water use and greenhouse gas emission figures for 2016-17 have been updated to reflect more complete data that is available for that year and to exclude information relating to sites for the Office of the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment, the City Renewal Authority and the Suburban Land Agency.
- The variance to this figure reflects the correction of a historical reporting error. The figure reported in the 2016-17 Annual Report was 10,396.61 square metres.
- The current year's data includes estimates.
- Total number of vehicles includes all passenger, commercial and plant equipment on 30 June.
- Fleet kilometres travelled has been recalculated for 2016-17 using information from various sources including SG Fleet data. Both years' data may include estimates.
- Emissions reported for stationary energy and transport fuels include Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions only.Emission factors used to calculate natural gas and fleet fuel are based on the latest National Greenhouse Accounts Factors.Greenhouse gas emissions for electricity consumption have been calculated using the following emissions factors based on the latest (May 2018) ACT Electricity Emissions Factor Report:
- A factor of 0.667 kilogram CO2-e / kilowatt hour (kWh) or 0.667 tonne (t) CO2-e / megawatt hour (MWh) has been used to calculate electricity emissions (Scope 2) for the 2016-17 period. It is based on actual historical data and is a retrospective adjustment of the original 0.525 factor (Scope 2) used for 2016-17 annual reporting.
- A factor of 0.455 kilogram CO2-e / kilowatt hour (kWh) or 0.455 tonne (t) CO2-e / megawatt hour (MWh) has been used to calculate electricity emissions (Scope 2) for the 2017-18 period.
Independent Audits undertaken by the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment
The Directorate has the responsibility for the coordination of the Gungahlin and Molonglo Valley Strategic Assessments. The strategic assessments under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act) allow for urban development to occur, subject to a broad range of commitments which are required to be delivered over the life of the approval. The commitments are outlined in endorsed plans: the Gungahlin Strategic Assessment Biodiversity Plan and the Molonglo Valley Plan for the Protection of Matters of National Environmental Significance.
The plans specify that an audit of the commitments is required every five years to ensure commitments are being implemented. The Office of the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment (OCSE) was identified in the endorsed plans as an appropriate entity to undertake the audits given its independent role.
Independent audits were undertaken by OSCE on both the Gungahlin and Molonglo Valley Strategic Assessments in 2017-18. Overall, the audit findings were positive, with the majority of commitments found to be compliant (some with observations noted).
Gungahlin Strategic Assessment
On 8 June 2016 the Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Simon Corbell MLA, provided a Ministerial direction to OCSE to undertake an independent audit of the Plan. The OCSE provided the final audit report to EPSDD on 20 November 2017.
The audit found that of the 39 commitments, a total of 19 (five with observations), were compliant. Thirteen commitments were non-compliant, five of which were identified as high risk, and five were termed undetermined.
The majority of non-compliant commitments were due to timeframes not being met, even though the commitments have been delivered.
Five corrective actions were issued to ensure commitments are met, relating to:
- compliance and enforcement for cat containment
- a review of the Taylor Stage 1 Construction and Environmental Management Plan
- processes for reporting potential breaches of commitments
- completion of fire hazard management strategies
- provision of educational material for future Throsby residents.
All five corrective actions have been delivered, and new processes and procedures have been implemented to improve the delivery of this strategic assessment.
The audit also made 8 recommendations. A government response to the recommendations was released in June 2018 and specific response to the recommendations is detailed in the table below. The ACT Government agreed to all recommendations and these are now being implemented.
ACT Government response
Completion of the five corrective action requests detailed in the Audit Table on or before the critical dates.
All five corrective actions have been completed in accordance with the audit report.
The ACT Government adheres to prescribed timeframes for delivery of all commitments and/or formalises with the Commonwealth the approval process to be adopted in the event of changes to due dates on commitments.
The ACT Government will seek advice from the Commonwealth on how to proceed and agreement to revised timeframes.
This will be supported by the development of a new database to track critical dates and key decision points to ensure that the ACT Government is on track to meet compliance.
Annual reporting processes will continue to be used to report progress and compliance.
The 2017-18 Annual Report is due to be completed in November 2018.
ACT Government improves the process for collection of evidence on implementation of the commitments in the Plan.
EPSDD took on this reporting function in 2016 and is working with relevant agencies to improve procedures to ensure information is captured, reviewed and filed in a consistent manner.
A process for maintaining consistent records and liaising with all government agencies is now in place.
EPSDD is continuing to improve processes to ensure all information is captured and stored in a consistent manner.
ACT Government ensures that all the research undertaken as a function of the Gungahlin Strategic Assessment and the Plan is made publicly available on the web, is accessible and easy to find, and includes historical research as well as the most recent scholarship and reports.
The ACT Government has actioned an update of the current webpage and is working on the construction of a new strategic assessment webpage to ensure research and reports are available to the public.
The new strategic assessment webpage will hold all relevant documents and guidance material relating to the Gungahlin Strategic Assessment in one location. EPSDD is working to ensure the webpage is user friendly and information is easily accessible to the public.
The webpage updates are due to be completed in 2018-2019.
Further work will be undertake to ensure historical research/documents are uploaded.
The ACT Government notes the Key Risks section and incorporates the recommendations in this section into future management.
Four key risks were identified in the Audit report, these include:
Two of the key risks, relating to informing buyers and commitment breaches have been addressed through the completed corrective actions.
Management of leasehold land and the ability to meet offset requirements is currently under review.
The ACT Government further investigate the commitments that have been termed Undetermined.
Commitments 3 and 12 are identified as ‘undetermined’ due to a lack of evidence.
Commitment 3 requires the ACT Government to provide guidance on the development of concept plans to ensure appropriate land use planning for areas adjacent to MNES habitat, and associated buffer to all urban development.
This is addressed through during development applications for estate development plans. This includes an assessment of the estate development plan against the ACT Bushfire Regulation, and the commitments under the Gungahlin Strategic Assessment.
Commitment 12 requires the ACT to ensure all obligations have been meet in regards to the MNES before handing over assets for ongoing operation. The audit report noted that there was insufficient evidence to make a determination on the status of this commitment.
Commitment 12 –
EPSDD is currently coordinating the Strategic Assessment and developing new procedures to ensure all data relating to the Gungahlin Strategic Assessment is captured.
The ACT Government notes the Observations detailed in the Audit Table and uses this to inform future management.
The observations relate to management actions to achieve habitat improvement targets including benchmarks to ensure the targets are met; and consideration of planning research to ensure a strategic approach is applied in delivering future management of the Gungahlin Strategic Assessment.
The ACT Government has undertaken a review of all commitments to determine what is working well and lessons learnt as part of the Plan Review Report process.
The Plan Review Report will also provide recommendations and guidance on future management to ensure the ACT Government is on track in meeting the objectives of the Gungahlin Strategic Assessment.
The Plan Review
Report is due to be completed by the end of October 2018.
Recommendations will be considered in the next financial year.
The ACT Government ensures adaptive management principles are carefully scrutinised and considered for incorporation into implementation of the commitments for this Plan.
The ACT Government recognises that the ecological values within the Gungahlin Strategic Assessment area will be subjected to the increasing and ongoing pressures of urban development and climate change. These pressures are not always known and their effects may be uncertain. To ensure the ACT Government is meeting its required targets, management actions are assessed on a case by case basis and, where required, adaptive management actions are applied to ensure conservation outcomes will be met
Adaptive management principles will be applied on a case by case basis.
Molonglo Valley Strategic Assessment
On 17 July 2017, the Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Minister Shane Rattenbury MLA, provided a Ministerial direction to OCSE to undertake an independent audit of the Molonglo Valley Plan for the Protection of Matters of National Environmental Significance.
OCSE provided the final audit report to the Directorate on 5 April 2018. The audit report was presented to the Legislative Assembly on 5 June 2018 by the Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Shane Rattenbury MLA.
The audit found that of the 60 commitments in the Plan, a total of 44 (28 with observations) were compliant. Eleven commitments were non-compliant, four of which were identified as high risk, four were termed undetermined and one was not applicable.
The majority of non-compliant commitments were only deemed non-compliant due to timeframes not being met, even though the commitments have been delivered.
Four corrective actions were issued to ensure priority commitments are met. These were:
- provide the final draft Molonglo Reserve Management Plan to the Minister for Planning and Land management (Commitment 9 and 36);
- finalise the operation plan for Offset (Patch P) to ensure appropriate management is occurring (Commitment 16);
- incorporate actions and monitoring requirements into relevant Land Management Agreements for the protection of the ecological condition of MNES within Offset area (Patches I, L and M) (Commitment 16);
- finalise the Operational Plan for the Pink-Tailed Worm-Lizard Conservation Area in the Molonglo River Reserve (Commitment 41).
The Operational Plan for the Pink-tailed Worm- Lizard has been delivered. The remaining actions are due to be delivered in late 2018. The Directorate is working with the relevant agencies to ensure they are delivered by the due date.
The audit report also made the following recommendations for the ACT Government:
- complete all the corrective action requests identified in this report within the indicated timeframes
- ensure ongoing resources and funding for the maintenance and enhancement of the ecological condition of MNES within the strategic assessment area
- adhere to timing requirements for all of the commitments
- the next Audit be carried out by May 2022 and that the ACT Government seeks agreement from the Commonwealth for this due date by 30 June 2018
- develop and implement an ISO9001 or similar framework for document control
- incorporate climate change resilience considerations in the management of MNES in the strategic assessment area
- give urgent consideration to the urban edge effect that is apparent around the Molonglo River Corridor, which is likely to be exacerbated as each of the new suburbs in the later stages of the Molonglo Valley Strategic Assessment area are developed
- note the Key Risks section and Observations detailed in the Audit Table and incorporates the recommendations in this section into future management
- investigate the commitments that have been termed Undetermined
- ensure adaptive management principles are carefully scrutinised and considered for incorporation into implementation of the commitments for the NES Plan
- consider Indigenous approaches to land management for MNES protection in the Molonglo Valley Strategic Assessment area
- that all the research undertaken as a function of the Molonglo Valley Strategic Assessment and the NES Plan is made publicly available on the web, is accessible and easy to find, and includes historical research as well as the most recent scholarship and reports.
The ACT Government is currently considering these recommendations and it is expected that a Government response to the recommendations will be released in the coming months.
The Directorate has sought agreement from the Commonwealth regarding the timeframes for the next audit, which will be undertaken by 31 May 2022.